I have discussed the issue of credibility and disclosure before. I continue to bring it up on this blog because this problem continues in court cases and is talked about in the appellate courts.
Here is the story in the reported case, which has a common thread to a number of cases that I have handled. A woman was injured in an accident and her main continuing problem was headaches. The case was not able to be settled so her lawyer filed a lawsuit on her behalf seeking compensation for her injuries. During the discovery process, the insurance defense lawyer took her deposition and retrieved her medical records.
At her deposition two years after the accident, the woman testified:
Q. Have you ever suffered from headaches before this accident? A. No, ma’am.
The same month, the was examined by a neurologist, whose report contained the following:
CHIEF COMPLAINTS: 1. Headache; 2. Neck pain; 3. Low back pain
HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS: The patient relates prior to [the date of the accident] she did not have these problems.
During the discovery process, the insurance defense lawyer came upon a medical record that was from 2 ½ years before the accident where the woman said she had frequent headaches.
Based on the woman’s deposition testimony and the past medical record, the insurance defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss for fraud on the court. The trial court dismissed the woman’s case finding that she committed “fraud on the court”. The woman’s lawyer had to appeal the matter and the appellate court ended up reversing the order of dismissal and the case is now pending.
In this case, even though the case was eventually reinstated the injured person had to go through a year or 18 month delay in her case forward. Her lawyer had to spend a lot of money, which will come out the woman’s pocket if there is any recovery, to appeal the matter. But more importantly, the value of the case has been significantly diminished and the insurance company will most likely require the case to go to trial because the woman is not going to be able to get past that medical record written 2 ½ years before the accident.
The woman stated that she believed her problem at that time was sinuses causing the headaches, which was different from the headaches she received in the accident. Whether true or not is not the issue, the issue is that it appears on the record that the woman was trying to hide this information, and this is going to impact her credibility before a jury.
In personal injury cases, credibility is the only thing that matters and once a personal injury client’s credibility is impugned, their case is sunk.
If you have any questions about a Leesburg Florida accident case, you can always give me a call at 352-267-9168.